Absolutely nothing is known about the life of John W. Armstrong apart from what he tells us or we can deduce from reading his book “The Water of Life: A Treatise on Urine Therapy” (The Water of Life: a Treatise on Urine Therapy, 1944).
We don’t even know the dates of his birth or death.
We can deduce that he was born in 1881, when he says: “My first acquaintance with the ravages of gangrene was in 1891 when I was a schoolboy of ten”.
At that time, of his schoolmates died when a tooth was extracted and his jaw became gangrenous after applying “drugs and suppressing ointments to reduce inflammation”.
“It so happened that at the same time as my schoolmate was suffering; I also had a swollen cheek. But the remedy my mother applied (she was a farmer’s daughter, by the way) was a very different one from the “scientific” ones the doctors had applied to my young friend. True, my own swollen cheek was the result of having been stung by a lot of bees.”
It was very painful, till his mother completely cured him by first bathing his face in urine and then binding it up with pieces of linen wrung out in the same healing fluid, his urine. His cheek was back to normal in a few hours.
Armstrong’s parents suggested this same treatment to the parents of his friend with the gangrenous jaw, but they rejected it outright with scorn and expressions of disgust.
Thinking about this case years later, Armstrong thought that urine compresses combined with urine-drinking and fasting could have saved his friend.
He also learned from his grandfather that urine and cow-dung were excellent remedies in treating the ailments of animals
This is how Armstrong got used to seeing how his family treated and cured minor ailments, such as insect bites, wounds or toothaches, with urine.
Moving into adulthood, Armstrong’s first patient was himself. In 1915, at the age of 34, Armstrong could not pass the medical examination for entry into the British army, being diagnosed as “consumptive” (tuberculosis).
Over the course of a year, he went through various doctors, conventional and naturopathic, to no avail, and going from bad to worse.
There came a moment when, feeling very weak and ill, he recalled the text in Proverbs V. which runs, “Drink waters out of thine own cistern,” a text which, in its turn, reminded him of the case of a young girl whose father gave her her own urine to drink when she was suffering from diphtheria, with the result that she was cured in three days. Other cases also came to his mind which had been cured by the same means.
But the inspiring elements did not end here. He remembered a doctor’s answer to his question when some few years previously he had asked him how he could tell from his urine that that his lungs and pancreas were diseased and wasting?
To which the doctor replied that through urine many different types of diseases could be diagnosed due to the loss of substances which are detected in the urine such as sugar (indicative of diabetes) or loss of “tissues” (high levels of protein).
Armstrong even remembered asking the doctor, in all innocence:
“If I am losing vital tissue and sugar through my urine, then why not drink the urine and replace these elements in that way?”
To which the doctor replied that the organs could not assimilate “dead matter.”
Armstrong considered the explanation as “a theoretical fallacy” and he endeavored to demonstrate since then what he had sensed from the beginning: that damaged or destroyed tissues could be reconstituted from their constituent elements dissolved and present in the urine.
Armstrong acknowledges that his interpretation of Proverbs 5:15 “Drink waters out of thine own cistern” in the sense of referring to the “vital liquid” that we carry inside, our urine, is a free and metaphorical interpretation of the text. However, by forcing himself to believe it, it led him to act according to this belief, which turned out to be his salvation.
Encouraged by his faith, assuming his interpretation of the biblical text as correct, Armstrong fasted for 45 days during which he took nothing but urine and tap water. Simultaneously Armstrong rubbed his urine all over his body, using only the bare palm of his hands.
These rubbings or frictions with the bare hands (not massages!), are considered by Armstrong as a fundamental, inseparable and integral part of his Urine Therapy, as we will see in detail in the special section “urine rubbings”.
During his first fast of urine and tap water, with no urine rubbings, when Armstrong had not yet fully developed his therapy, he experienced an episode of strong heart palpitations (“I was intrigued but not alarmed”, he comments calmly).
At that moment the Bible came to the rescue again to give him the answer. This time it was the New Testament, Matthew 6:17:
“When thou fastest, anoint thy head and wash thy face.”
Which Armstrong interpreted as a command, the command to “anoint”, “rub” the body with urine, beginning with the head.
As with the previous biblical quote, Armstrong admits to being aware that this interpretation was far-fetched, but the fact is that it gave him the strength and the idea to rub his body with his urine, at which point the palpitations stopped.
Let’s say at the end of such a demanding treatment: 45 uninterrupted days of strict fast, with just urine and water! Armstrong felt completely healed and restored: “a totally new man” and full of energy, he said:
After having carried out his self-healing, starting in 1918, at the age of 37, Armstrong, little by little and at the request of relatives and friends, began to apply his therapy to other people in a discreet way, since not being a doctor and the therapy being not endorsed by conventional medicine, its practice was illegal.
In 1944, after 26 years of private medical practice with his Urine Therapy, Armstrong published his book “The Water of Life: a Treatise on Urine Therapy.”
The publication in 1944 of the book The Water of Life: A Treatise on Urine Therapy, by John W. Armstrong, represents (or will represent in the future in my opinion) a before and after in the history of medicine.
As a matter of fact, the world of medicine owes an unpayable debt of gratitude, to a great extent still not acknowledged, to John W. Armstrong (1881-?), founder and creator of Urine Therapy.
Due to the difficulties and even attacks that novel healing systems and alternative medicines often suffer, before succeeding or gaining acceptance by people or the conventional medicine, Armstrong declares at the beginning of his book:
“Like the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of health has to be taken by storm.”
Armstrong begins his book by saying that while it must be admitted that naturopathy has played a great role in curing many diseases that conventional medicine had failed to address, however, naturopathy, as it is frequently practiced, does not go far enough, for although it can cleanse the body of toxins, it is not capable of replacing tissues lost from serious diseases, such as cancer.
This could only be accomplished, Armstrong says, by urine applied according to a unique therapy he had developed, the details of which he proposed to put forward in his book The Water of Life, therapy he had practiced on himself and many others “with signal success, although many of them were said to be suffering from incurable diseases”.
According to Armstrong we cannot be surprised by the healing effects of urine, if we understand that urine is not dead matter, but, as it were, flesh, blood and vital tissues in a living solution: filtered blood.
From this blog I have to say that Armstrong’s therapy to this day has not been fully understood, far from it. For my part, I will endeavor to explain to what extent Armstrong’s therapy has not been understood and I will do my best to ensure that it is understood and valued as it deserves.
It can be said that there are degrees of appreciation, understanding or application of Armstrong’s therapy, from a total lack of understanding and experience of it, to a partial, not full understanding.
There are also books and publications, even scientific ones, that use the ideas and thrust of Armstrong’s book without mentioning it. Or they mention Armstrong in the bibliography as just another author and not as what he really is, as the author who generates all the bibliography and studies that can be seen on the subject since he published his book.
Armstrong’s book and therapy affect in one way or another any study or publication that has to do with the healing virtues of urine. Even references to the traditional use of urine must be seen in the light of Armstrong’s book, as it is Armstrong who sparks interest in both the present and the past uses of urine as a remedy. On the other hand, to this day, Armstrong is the author who puts the healing virtues of urine at the highest level of efficacy.
Armstrong’s book not only immediately sparked enormous interest in the novel human urine-based therapy, but also had the effect, which lasts to this day, of unleashing a vast array of investigations, studies, and publications on the alleged or actual healing virtues of urine.
Hundreds of millions of people today follow a urine therapy based on Armstrong’s therapy, from all countries and continents, especially from India and China.
Armstrong’s urine therapy had from the beginning staunch followers and highly influential propagandists, such as the Gandhian social reformer Raojibhai Manibhai Patel (Manav Mootra: Auto-urine Therapy, 1959), or the former Prime Minister of India Morarji Desai (1896 –1995), who attributed its longevity, of about 100 years, to its daily ingestion of urine.
The influence of Armstrong’s book even extended into the past, forcing to review and reconsider the publications in scientific journals and publications that certified, more than 100 years ago and to the surprise of many, the efficacy of urine in the treatment of a variety of diseases.
One wonders why some even promising lines of scientific research around the year 1900 were not pursued. Well, in general when effective healing properties of a natural substance are discovered, conventional medicine prefers to continue researching to find the supposed active principles of the substance, in order to use these. A “hollistic” use of a substance, no matter how effective, is generally considered “less scientific” that discovering and using the refined active principles (often much less effective).
Armstrong was aware that since ancient times, not only human urine, but also the urine of a great variety of animals, from cows and horses to camels, has been used continuously by man for the treatment of a great variety of diseases. These practices are recorded in writing in most of the pharmacopoeias of the great civilizations, such as the Egyptian, the Hindu, the Roman and medieval.
So, Armstrong was certainly not the first person to use urine as medicine, but he was the first to develop, create and use an original therapy based exclusively on urine as medicine. This therapy is unprecedented in the history of traditional or conventional medicine.
As we have said above, since 1918, at the age of 37, Armstrong puts into practice, privately (it was an illegal activity), his therapeutic system, therapy that he applied in the same or similar way to all types of disease, regardless of diagnosis.
Armstrong goes on to treat “tens of thousands” of patients, the vast majority of whom, according to Armstrong, were cured.
Armstrong, with a good understanding about the use of urine as a medicine by man from the most remote antiquity and up to his own time, tried to find support and justify his therapy by alluding to the traditional use of urine.
The novelty of Armstrong’s book is that it turns the traditional uses of urine into an exclusive and complete therapy. In other words, Armstrong makes urine an essential part of a novel therapy: Armstrong’s Urine Therapy.
Armstrong advocates in his therapy the use of urine as the exclusive agent for the treatment of all diseases.
Armstrong’s urine therapy turns the diagnosis completely unnecessary, since the treatment he recommends for all diseases is the same and essentially consists of (1) ingesting one’s own urine, (2) fasting with urine, and (3) rubbings with urine all over the body.
These three actions must necessarily be carried out in combination and simultaneously, since, according to Armstrong, otherwise the therapy would not be effective and could even be counterproductive.
In another section we will explain in detail the application of urine therapy. We will also dedicate a special section to the scientific and historical justification of Armstrong’s therapy.
In conclusion, I consider that Armstrong’s book “The Water of Life: A Treatise on Urine Therapy” as one of the best books ever written on medicine, and this even regardless of what has to do with urine therapy, its main object.
From these digital pages I hope that I can contribute to the recognition of the importance of Armstrong in the history of medicine in order to make it grow to approach or equal the importance of Hippocrates himself, who is generally considered the father of medicine.
In this last sense, it could be noted that we can see a parallel between the importance that Hippocrates gives to “ptisana” or barley water, to which he dedicates an entire chapter as an almost exclusive treatment of acute and feverish states, and the exclusive use of the urine by Armstrong, for all kinds of conditions, in health and disease. To contrast the exclusivity of use of Hippocrates’ ptisana with the exclusivity of use of urine by Armstrong, a fruitful exercise!